When rebels seized the headquarters of Virunga National Park–home to 200 of the world’s 700 remaining endangered mountain gorillas–some 50 rangers fled into the forests and abandoned the park station. Intense fighting between the Congolese army and the rebels loyal to dissident General Laurent Nkunda drove them into the mountains where they spent days trying to return home, walking without food or shelter, trying to avoid the violence around them.
They all made it except for one, who was reported today to have died from cholera contracted in the refugee camp in Goma.
In the last decade, 120 rangers have died due to the civil conflict in the DRC. These brave men have received no wages recently and a lot of equipment was lost or broken during the flight. Given the accelerating conflict in the region, it’s not likely they will be able to return to the park anytime soon.